Trump national prayer breakfast
President Donald Trump addresses the National Prayer Breakfast Feb. 2, 2017 in Washington, D.C. Win McNamee/Getty Images

President Donald Trump took an unconventional approach to his first speech at the National Prayer Breakfast Thursday by joking about the ratings of his successor on the “Celebrity Apprentice” television show, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Appearing at the traditional event at the Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C., Trump decided to take his latest swipe at Schwarzenegger. After mentioning his “tremendous success” as host of the reality show, he pointed out its falling ratings since his departure.

“We know how that turned out,” he said at the meeting of faith, business and political leaders, which has been attended by every president since its inception in 1953. “The ratings went right down the tubes. It's been a total disaster. And I want to just pray for Arnold if we can, for those ratings.”

Trump last month tweeted that Schwarzenegger, a former governor of California, had been “destroyed,” while pointing out that he supported first Ohio Gov. John Kasich and then Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in the presidential election.

Trump’s use of such a forum to air personal grievances immediately attracted criticism across social media. American Christian columnist and author Rachel Held Evans tweeted to her more than 100,000 followers: “At the prayer breakfast I attended, President Obama spoke about how the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ changed his life.”

Trump’s faith was a major topic of discussion during his election campaign, as he fought to convince skeptics and followers of Republican opponent Ted Cruz of his Christianity. One of the country’s leading evangelicals, James C. Dobson, said during the campaign that Trump had only recently come “to accept a relationship with Christ.”

“I don’t know when it was, but it has not been long,” Dr. Dobson said. “I believe he really made a commitment, but he’s a baby Christian.”